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Business - Written by on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 17:56 - 6 Comments

Worldsourcing: A new global enterprise model

I recently came across a new term, “Worldsourcing”, that expresses beautifully the next generation of global enterprises.  Take a look here, on the Lenovo blog.

The idea behind Worldsourcing is really the dawn of the truly global enterprise. Global enterprises operate on a truly global scale; operate with porous corporate boundaries (interacting with “outside” partners in much the same collaborative way that “internal” departments work together); and bring that global approach to all functions (not just manufacturing and customer service). Let’s look at each in more detail:

* Truly global scale. Worldsourcing companies have no single corporate headquarters, which means their senior management teams are often culturally, and physically, dispersed throughout the globe. This gives them a much deeper insight into the challenges and opportunities of globalization than their “multi¬national” brethren.

* Porous corporate boundaries. Worldsourcing companies have porous corporate boundaries – meaning they manage a portfolio of “internal” (same owner) and “external” (different owners) resources in most aspects of their work. This is why we call them truly global enterprises, and not just corporations. The very best cul¬ti¬vate the same kinds of trust-based, highly-collaborative relationships with their partners that they have with internal colleagues – a far cry from the SLA-driven, contractual relationships that often characterize “strategic” outsourcing relationships.

* Across all business functions. While some business leaders have managed global scale and porous relationships in one or two key functions (e.g., manufacturing and software development), Worldsourcing companies take this approach across all business functions – including marketing, product development, sales and customer service. For instance, a product development team based in India may work with a marketing team based in the Netherlands to create new value propositions for sale in markets from South Africa to Japan. This brings global creativity to bear where it matters most: not just in cost-reduction areas such as manufacturing, but in the core functions of business success – innovation and customer relationships.

Lenovo is a great role model in this new world. Another leader worthy of careful attention is Arcelor-Mittal (see this article from The Economist). More traditional “global corporations” such as GE, Coke and Procter & Gamble, deserve mention – but most of these are more truly multi-nationals than global enterprises. They still generally have a strong headquarters, often in America; they still rely preferentially on internal (owned) resources; and they still treat marketing and product development from a central hub.

The other companies that merit attention are the truly global professional services firms, arguably the first truly global organizations. Most notable among these are McKinsey, Accenture and Goldman Sachs, for their true “one global firm” organization and business models. But again, these firms have had little or no success with porous enterprise boundaries; rather, they keep most functions in-house.


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Flatsourcing is Worldsourcing | Flatsourcing
Mar 26, 2008 20:54

[...] Just saw a new Twitter via Geoff Livingston about a Wikinomics post about Worldsourcing. [...]

Nick Holt
Mar 27, 2008 13:45

Check into Satish Nambisan and Mohnbir Sawhney, who have written a book entitled “The Global Brain: Your Roadmap for Innovating Faster & Smarter in a Networked World”. Just published by Wharton School Publishing. I have just purchased this book.

Wikinomics » Blog Archive » Net Gen and the un-American Dream
Apr 13, 2008 17:28

[...] Net Gen and the un-American Dream I came across a book review in the NY Times last week that made me realize that the era of the American Dream might be coming to an end (has ended?), mostly due to a combination of Wikinomic forces; namely the global Net Generation and rising global economies/Worldsourcing. [...]

Rob Carol Vancouver Canada
Jun 25, 2008 21:45

I’m in- looking for sources of and markets for sustainable/green products. How do you tap into Worldsourcing for that?

Jul 2, 2008 15:31


Thanks for dropping by the Worldsourcing blog.

As you note, Lenovo is one of the great examples of a business operating in a truly global economy, where boundaries are blurred and success in a global market means an organization must do more than have a global presence; it must think globally and act locally on all levels. Often this can only be done effectively if the company is both local and global.

We call this Global 2.0, and it requires the decentralizing of control and adoption of worldsourcing. Its about building products and services in the best place for the business and selling those products and services where the demand is highest.

Thank you for posting about it. I have a new article on the topic appearing next week on Changethis.com.

Reid Walker

» Blog Archive » Made in Italy in China: an introduction
May 29, 2009 8:09

[...] market is a strategic target for Italian economy mainly based on small and medium enterprises. Language and cultural barriers could be avoided via Hong Kong access to Chinese market, however, [...]

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